Jane Fonda honored at film festival amid Vietnam veterans’ protest

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Jane Fonda has been honored with a lifetime achievement award at a northern Michigan film festival founded by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore.

The actress, author and political activist accepted the award Wednesday at the 14th annual Traverse City Film Festival, where she screened her HBO documentary “Jane Fonda in Five Acts.” Fonda also held a panel discussion with Moore in which she discussed gender equality, her concerns about President Donald Trump’s administration and her activism.

“If Trump hadn’t been elected, I could have been gardening,” said Fonda, who campaigned in Michigan last week with her “Grace and Frankie” co-star Lily Tomlin to call for raising the minimum wage for tipped employees. “I’m going to spend my 80s at the barricades again. It’s not what I expected.”

Dozens of Vietnam War veterans protested the festival over Fonda’s anti-war activism in the 1970s. The actress drew heavy criticism after she was photographed atop an anti-aircraft gun during a controversial 1972 visit to North Vietnam.

Traverse City veteran John Milks served with the Marine Corps in Vietnam from 1968-1969. He said during the protest Wednesday that he thinks Fonda’s visit to Vietnam “raised the enemy’s morale and lowered ours.”

“She defected to the enemy side,” Milks said. “We felt pretty hurt by that.”

Fonda acknowledged making a “terrible mistake” by posing for the photo and has expressed regret over the message it sent to soldiers and their families.

Veteran Calvin Murphy said protestors wanted Fonda to know that they haven’t “forgotten what she did.”

Not all veterans feel that way about Fonda.

“If I could, what I would do right now is I would come up to you and I would drape the Congressional Medal of Honor around you,” said Tim Keenan, a Vietnam War veteran. “I’m so proud of you for all the work you’ve done and all that you have endured, the adversity and your courage.”

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